Kingston, Jamaica: Kemar Roach spearheaded an excellent West Indies effort to limit India’s progress after lunch following captain Virat Kohli’s decision not to enforce the follow-on on the third day of the second and final Test against at Sabina Park in Jamaica on Sunday.
With a formidable 299-run first innings lead as their platform, the tourists stuttered to 73 for four at tea, adding just 56 runs in two hours’ play for the loss of three wickets.
It leaves the tourists still very much in command with an overall advantage of 372 runs.
However it was the outstanding bowling of Roach which took the spotlight in the day’s middle session.
Having removed Mayank Agarwal before lunch after the home side were dismissed for 117 in their first innings, the 30-year-old fast bowler was rewarded for his consistent excellence in line and length in the afternoon with the wickets of K.L. Rahul and Kohli off consecutive deliveries.
Both were caught behind in identical fashion and it could have gotten even better for Roach and the West Indies as he came within millimetres of matching Jasprit Bumrah’s hat-trick of the previous day.
His first delivery to new batsman Ajinkya Rahane took an inside-edge and flew past the stumps on the way to the fine-leg boundary.
Roach’s three wickets so far in the innings have elevated him ninth on the list of all-time leading wicket-takers in Tests for the West Indies with 193 victims, one ahead of the legendary Wes Hall, who was the consistent spearhead of the dominant Caribbean teams of the 1960’s.
Jason Holder then prised out Chesteshwar Pujara to reduce India to 57 for four before first innings century-maker Hanuma Vihari joined Rahane in successfully defying the West Indies to the tea interval.
Roach was last out in the West Indies first innings as the lower order offered a bit more resistance on the third morning than the frontline batsmen had shown late on day two when Bumrah’s hat-trick highlighted the demolition job by the tourists’ fast bowlers, reducing the Caribbean team to 87 for seven at the close of play.
Bumrah failed to add to his six-wicket tally from the day before and it was left to the other frontline bowlers – pacers Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma and spinner Ravindra Jadeja – to eventually claim the last three wickets after 75 minutes’ play.
Shami produced a steep lifter to remove Rahkeem Cornwall via a simple catch to Rahane at gully while Sharma accounted for the other overnight debutant, Jahmar Hamilton, Kohli holding on to the chance low at third slip.
With last man Shannon Gabriel at the other end, Roach opted to hit out against Jadeja but could only spoon a catch to Mayank Agarwal at cover.
Mindful no doubt of managing the workload on his bowlers in extremely hot conditions, Kohli opted to bat a second time, presenting Roach with the opportunity to further enhance his already burgeoning credentials as the best West Indies fast bowler of the modern era.